SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is an internet protocol that ensures encryption of data transmitted between the server and the user. This process blocks out any third party trying to listen in on the transmission. The SSL certificate is based on this protocol and is essentially the same. However, there are different kinds of markers a Certificate Authority can give to a certificate which can make it easier for a customer to identify whether they are visiting a website secured with SSL, and if so, who the certificate was issued to. These markers are corresponding to the level of validation of company or personal details before the certificate was issued.
The DV, or Domain Validated, certificate is the most affordable certificate. This type of certificate is validated on a domain level. This means that the person placing the request has to prove ownership of the domain by completing one of the following validations:
- Respond to a standard-form email sent to the email address in the WHOIS information
- Respond to a standard-form email sent to a default email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Adding a TXT record to the DNS
- Placing a special file on the server that can be read by the CA
The DV certificate is suitable for non-public websites such as test environments or non-public servers. The certificate does not contain any company data. Browsers will highlight the certificate in the address bar with a green lock icon.
The OV, or Organisation Validated, certificate is suitable for public websites without a commercial aim or government function. An example is subdomains meant for internal use only, such as the online mail environment. The certificate is validated at an organisational level, by checking whether the organisation was entered into a public external government source or register, such as the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce. After the validation, which is mostly done by phone, the company data will be included in the certificate. This information can be viewed through the browser when clicking on the green lock in the address bar.
OV certificates are often used as wildcard certificate.
The EV, or Extended Validation, certificate is most suitable for commercial websites such as webshops and banks, but is also used for government functions. This type of certificate is validated extensively, by checking whether the organisation was entered into a public external government source or register, such as the Trade register of the Chamber of Commerce. Apart from that, the CA also performs extensive checks itself. The thoroughness of this process means that the issuance process of an EV certificate takes longer than an OV or DV certificate.
The EV certificate is most suitable for commercial websites because it clearly indicates the party responsible for the website. The browser shows company data, and the company name is included in the address bar.